"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Thursday, July 20, 2017

'Everything will Collapse': German Courts ‘Overwhelmed’ by Asylum Seeker Claims

© Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

The number of cases filed by asylum seekers challenging the decisions of immigration authorities in German courts has brought the legal system to the brink of collapse, a top German judge has warned in an interview.

The sheer number of cases filed has overwhelmed the civil courts of the country, said Robert Seegmuller, chairman of the Association of German Administrative Law Judges while speaking to the publishing house Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

“The situation is dramatic for administrative courts,” Seegmuller told RND. “We are now completely stretched to our limits.”

Seegmuller had been complaining since spring about the number of lawsuits being filed against the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). Thousands of applicants have challenged the decisions delivered on their cases by the BAMF, including deportation orders back to potentially unsafe countries such as Afghanistan.

Based on RND’s estimations, there are approximately 250,000 asylum-related cases waiting to be brought before the courts.

Good grief! What about all the other civil cases - they will have to wait for years to be heard.

“The administrative court system cannot endure such a figure in the long run. At some point, everything will collapse,” Seegmüller warned. “Things may go well for a while, but not permanently.”

With such a vast volume of cases, the German legal system finds itself lacking judges and other personnel, space, and IT capabilities, he added.

“The justice system is indeed determined to bulk itself up, but it is ever more difficult to find the desperately needed personnel,” he said.

Seegmuller said in addition to the volume of work, the courts have to deal with poor decision-making by immigration authorities. He would not elaborate further.

The situation has been further complicated by a explosive reports earlier this year, in which a group of German soldiers with right-wing affiliations, allegedly plotted the assassinations of left-wing politicians with the intention to pin the crimes on migrants.

One of the suspects had managed to obtain a second identity as a Syrian refugee, prompting an early review of up to 100,000 asylum decisions which has created an even bigger backlog, according to the German Interior Ministry.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Confusion in German Courts re: Muslim Scarves; Not in Canada

‘No religious symbols’: Muslim woman banned from wearing headscarf in German court

© Axel Heimken / Reuters

A German court has told a Syrian woman that she must take off her headscarf to appear in court for divorce proceedings against her husband.

According to a report in Tagesspiegel, the woman, who arrived in Germany as a refugee, sought a divorce from her husband before a magistrate in Luckenwalde in the state of Brandenburg.

Before the hearing, however, the presiding judge sent a letter to the woman’s lawyer informing her that she would not be allowed wear a headscarf during the court case.

“Religiously motivated statements, such as the wearing of a headscarf, will not be allowed,” the letter reportedly reads.

The letter outlined that the woman, who is Muslim, could face sanctions if she wears the traditional headgear at the proceedings, which she was ordered to attend.

Officials in German courts are required to be religiously neutral and are not allowed to wear religious symbols, however, the same requirement doesn’t apply to civilians. The woman’s lawyer has labelled the decision unconstitutional.

Defence lawyers are also not bound by rules on religious neutrality, and may wear a headscarf or other symbols of religion.

Tagesspiegel notes that in 2006 Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled that a judge cannot expel a spectator from a court proceeding because they are wearing a headscarf.

The court in Luckenwalde defended the decision, telling Tagesspiegel that the judge “is responsible for ensuring rules are adhered to in the courtroom, where religious symbols have no place.”

Last month the state of Berlin was ordered to pay a Muslim teacher €6,900 after she was rejected from a job because her hijab contravened a German law restricting religious symbols in the workplace.

German courts have held other similar proceedings this year, challenging the workplace neutrality law.

No issue in Canada, however, a woman (in green) charged with terrorism was allowed to appear in a Toronto court in full burka with only her eyes visible. She did this twice. On the first occasion she proclaimed allegiance to ISIS. Canada's neo-liberal experiment is completely out of control.

Saudi Woman Wearing Miniskirt in Video Arrested Following Public Outcry **UPDATE**

As I have pointed out a few times, Islam is progressive, not progressive in a liberal sense, quite the opposite. Islam progresses toward more and more strict Sharia, or Sharia-like attitudes until women are made virtually invisible.

**UPDATE**: Several news agencies are reporting today that the girl has been released without charge.

Video sparked Twitter backlash, with many saying she broke country's strict dress code for women
The Associated Press

A woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video was shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's most conservative tribes and families are from.

A woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around.
The short video was shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's
most conservative tribes and families are from. (Khulood/Snapchat)

A Saudi woman has been arrested for defying the kingdom's strict dress code by walking around in a miniskirt and crop top in a video that sparked public outrage.

The woman, whose name was not given, was detained by police in the capital, Riyadh, for wearing "immodest clothes" that contradicted the country's conservative Islamic dress code, state media reported Tuesday. Police referred her case to the public prosecutor, according to the official Twitter account of state-run TV channel al-Ekhbariya.

In the video, which has gone viral since first emerging on Snapchat over the weekend, the woman is filmed walking around a historic fort in a miniskirt with no one else around. The short video, shot in a village in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia's most conservative tribes and families are from, is followed by other shots of her sitting in the desert.

The video sparked a Twitter hashtag that called for her arrest, with many saying she flagrantly disobeyed Saudi rules, which require all women living in the kingdom, including foreigners, to wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public. Most Saudi women also wear a headscarf and veil that covers the face.

In other words, for women to be invisible in public.

Social media is wildly popular in Saudi Arabia as a space to vent frustrations and gauge public opinion. The outcry against the video and the woman's subsequent arrest reveal how powerful and widespread conservative views are in the kingdom, despite recent moves by Saudi Arabia to modernize and loosen some rules.

The country's 31-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for entertainment in part to appease the youth, who are active on social media and can bypass government censors online. More than half of Saudi Arabia's population is under 25.

The government announced last week that girls would be allowed for the first time to play sports in public school and have access to physical education classes. The powers of the kingdom's religious police have also been curtailed, and they are officially no longer allowed to arrest people.

This is a clear attempt to reverse some of the stringent application of Sharia. It will be interesting to see if it leads anywhere. The reaction on Twitter would make it seem that loosening moral codes is not a a popular idea.

Despite these moves, strict gender segregation rules and other restrictions on women remain in place. Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and cannot obtain a passport or travel abroad without a male relative's permission.

After the woman's video surfaced, some Saudis expressed alarm, saying that Twitter was being used as a tool to out other citizens.

Saudi writer Waheed al-Ghamdi wrote on Twitter that while the woman violated Saudi laws, her actions did not warrant such an outcry because they did not harm others.

Ivanka Trump, left, and Melania Trump are seen at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in May. Some have noted the two women did not cover their heads or wear abayas. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

"I am simply questioning the lack of priorities regarding anger and alarm expressed over human rights violations and oppression versus the harmless personal choices of others," he wrote.

Some of those defending her posted images from U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May, in which his wife Melania and his daughter Ivanka, though modestly dressed in higher necklines and longer sleeves, did not cover their heads or wear abayas.

The woman's image was blurred on Saudi news websites reporting on the case. It is common in Saudi Arabia to see heavily blurred or pixelated images of women's faces on billboards and storefronts — in stark contrast to the many towering images of senior male royals displayed across the country.

Of course, can't have women with faces! They wouldn't be invisible!

The 6 second video can be seen here

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Flurry of Gun Control Bills Pass Across US as Everytown Delights in ‘Winning’ Against Gun Lobby

Guns - third leading cause of death among USA children - 1300 per year

© Rick Wilking / Reuters

Gun control advocates are celebrating a slew of legislation passed across the country. Domestic abusers are targeted in new bills passed by five states, while other states have enhanced their background checks for purchasing firearms.

Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah all passed new restrictions on firearms for domestic abusers, according to Everytown for Gun Safety group, which is funded by billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Overall, 23 states have enhanced the laws around domestic abusers since 2013, says the gun control advocacy group.

"When you look at what's happening in statehouses across the country, the gun safety movement is winning in state after state — even in this challenging political environment — because volunteers and gun violence survivors have become the counterweight to the gun lobby," said Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown.

Hawaii, Tennessee and Washington state passed new laws requiring that police be notified when anyone who fails to pass a background check tries to buy a gun.

Many of these measures were passed with the support of Republican lawmakers and governors, even though the party itself has promised to roll back restrictions on guns and not to allow new ones, points out Everytown.

Gun regulation advocates claimed victory and a loss for the gun lobby, noting that attempts to repeal background checks in Iowa and Nebraska failed, while 17 of 18 states rejected bills to allow guns in schools and 14 of 16 states rejected bills to allow guns on college campuses.

Additionally, 20 of 22 states didn’t pass bills that would have eliminated requirements for permits to carry guns, a top priority for the National Rifle Association, Everytown wrote in its new “report card.”

The new gun regulations could be challenged in front of the Supreme Court, but in the past nine years, SCOTUS has avoided most Second Amendment cases, including those challenging state and local restrictions.

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Meanwhile, statistics of gun violence in the country are grim.

Last month, a study found that shootings in the US kill nearly 1,300 children every year, making it the third leading cause of mortality among children after accidents and congenital disease, the study said.

Saudi Arabia Funding Terrorist-Breeding Mosques – ex-UK Ambassador to Riyadh

If you have been reading this blog for a while this story will not be news to you. This is the biggest fear for those of us opposed to large numbers of Muslims entering western countries. They come a peaceful, good people and then get drawn into Wahhabism or Salafism which is basically radicalization.

© Global Look Press

Saudi Arabia has been funding mosques across Europe that are encouraging terrorism through extremists ideologies, the former UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia has said.

Sir William Patey claimed that even though the Gulf State – which is the UK’s biggest trade and security ally in the Middle East – does not directly fund terrorism, it still finances religious institutions which radicalize individuals, becoming the breeding ground of terrorists.

 “It is unhealthy and we need to do something about it,” he said, according to the Guardian.

“The Saudis [have] not quite appreciated the impact their funding of a certain brand of Islam is having in the countries in which they do it – it is not just Britain and Europe.

I'm not convinced they don't appreciate what they are doing. Sir William is a diplomat; I am a realist.

“That is a dialogue we need to have. They are not funding terrorism. They are funding something else, which may down the road lead to individuals being radicalised and becoming fodder for terrorism.”

They are not funding terrorism.
They are funding something else, 
which may lead to individuals being radicalised.

Patey, who was the UK ambassador to Riyadh from 2006 to 2010 and previously head of the Foreign Office Middle East desk, called for “a grown up dialogue with the Gulf about what we think,” adding that even if it is not the Saudi regime funding terrorists directly, there are individuals within the country who may defy the government.

The former ambassador’s comments are likely to stir controversy as they come a day after the government refused to publish a Home Office-commissioned report of foreign funding of extremist organizations and individuals in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the already much-delayed report – commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron – will be permanently kept from the public eye amid “national security concerns.”

The report found that while most funding of extremists in Britain comes from UK-based individual donors, some donations come from abroad.

The decision to not publish the report has caused an outcry and intensified allegations that the government is delaying publishing the report, which was ready six months ago, in order to save diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia – a country largely expected to be named in the paper as financing extremists in Britain.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron hit back at the decision to not disclose all details of the report and accused the government of putting its diplomatic ties above Britain’s values.

“We cannot tackle the root causes of terrorism in the UK without full disclosure of the states and institutions that fund extremism in our country.

“Instead of supporting the perpetrators of these vile ideologies, the government should be naming and shaming them - including so-called allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar if need be,” he said, according to Business Insider.

“It seems like the government, yet again, is putting our so-called friendship with Saudi Arabia above our values. This shoddy decision is the latest in a long line where we have put profit over principle.”

Italy’s New Rules for NGO Rescue Vessels Blasted by Amnesty, HRW

Desperate to slow down the astonishing migration of Africans into Italy, and the near abandonment of the EU, the country has responded with new rules to govern NGO rescue ships. It is becoming clear that these ships work with Libyan people smugglers in order to get as many migrants safely across the Mediterranean as possible.

© Alkis Konstantinidis / Reuters

The Italian government has drawn up a draft plan to limit migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International claim the measures are punitive and would severely endanger lives.

“Perversely, the proposed code of conduct for NGOs saving lives in the Mediterranean could put lives at risk,” said Iverna McGowan, director of the Amnesty International, European Institutions Office, as cited by HRW.  

“Attempts to restrict NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by limiting rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya.”

The leaked 11-point plan, seen by both HRW and Amnesty, will be presented in the coming days to a total of nine NGOs who regularly operate migrant rescue boats off Libya.

The proposed code of conduct for rescue NGOs constitutes a last-ditch effort to stem the flow of migrants into Italy, which has decried a lack of support from its European allies.

"The call of the Italian government on European solidarity is completely justified," European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said as cited by DW.

"Italy has shown a level of solidarity with refugees that is almost unprecedented in European history over the last couple of years."

However, the draft proposal may be seen as more of an ultimatum than a code of conduct, as non-compliant NGOs risk being barred from Italian ports.

The proposed rules include a ban on making telephone calls or using flares to communicate with human traffickers along the Libyan coast – a signal that the migrant boats can launch.

This is almost certainly what 'Defend Europe' is referring to when they accuse NGOs of collaboration with human smugglers.

NGO boats will also be barred from entering Libyan territorial waters without clear indications that human lives are at risk.

The private rescue groups will also be forced to allow Italian police to travel on board to enforce the new rules and help weed out any potential human traffickers that may have smuggled themselves aboard among the migrants.

In addition, the proposal expressly forbids the transfer of passengers between boats, greatly limiting the potential number of rescues possible in a given mission.

Both Amnesty and HRW received leaked versions of the draft proposal and warned that the new rules could dramatically hamper their work with potentially disastrous consequences.

"Attempts to restrict NGO search and rescue operations risk endangering thousands of lives by limiting rescue boats from accessing the perilous waters near Libya," said McGowan, as cited by Reuters.

Some 85,217 migrants have been rescued and brought to shore in Italy so far this year, according to Italian Interior Ministry data released Wednesday. This marks an 8.9 percent increase year-on-year.  

Italy has accepted more than half a million migrants and refugees in the past four years.

A small group of charity boats has vastly increased its intake of migrants in the past three years, from less than one percent of the total in 2014 to just over one third of all migrants rescued so far this year.

The UNHCR claims the private rescue teams are now responsible for up to 41 percent.

 The Italian government has grown increasingly hostile towards migrant rescue NGOs in recent months and exasperated with the lack of assistance provided by their European allies in handling the crisis.

"Progress has been made regarding migration policy, but it is not yet sufficient," Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters Wednesday, as cited by Reuters.

Human Rights Watch described the draft proposal as "flawed," warning that thousands more refugees and migrants could die if such measures were implemented.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo Dies in Custody in China

Despite amazing progress toward a free-enterprise society,
China still governs itself from Communist paranoia

Jailed in 2009 for 'inciting subversion of state power,' he was being treated for liver cancer
Thomson Reuters

A protester displays portraits of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo during a demonstration outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong on Wednesday. (Vincent Yu/Associated Press)

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died after suffering multiple organ failure, says the government of the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, where he was being treated for late-stage liver cancer.

The Shenyang legal bureau said in a brief statement Thursday on its website that efforts to save the 61-year-old had failed.

In 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years behind bars for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped write a petition known as Charter 08 while calling for sweeping political reforms.

The following year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norway-based committee for his work in China in advancing human rights. He was represented at the ceremony by an empty chair. The move greatly angered the Chinese government, which did not normalize relations with Oslo until earlier this year. 

Liu was recently moved from jail to a hospital in Shenyang. His supporters and foreign governments had urged Beijing to allow him to receive treatment abroad, but Chinese authorities insisted he was receiving the best care possible for a disease that had spread throughout his body.

Beijing did allow two foreign doctors, from the U.S. and Germany, to visit Liu on Saturday.

The head of the Nobel Peace Prize committee lauded Liu's accomplishments while blaming China for his "premature death." 

Liu "will remain a powerful symbol for all who fight for freedom, democracy and a better world," Berit Reiss-Andersen said in a statement.

"The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death."

An empty chair represents Liu at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in December 2010. Liu was jailed in 2009 for writing his call for political reform in China. (Toby Melville/Reuters)